Saturday, July 23, 2011

CineMalaya Film Festival Review: i-Funerals & Baby Factory



I saw two films today at the CineMalaya Film Festival and just by coincidence, they seem to have complimented each other well. One is about birth and the other is about death. I shall begin at the end with death. i-Libings or in English, i-Funerals is about a film/communications student who very reluctantly accepts an internship where they do video coverage of funerals for internet and DVD with the intent of it being viewed by relatives living abroad or relatives unable to attend them. The film starts out just being okay. The first two-thirds or so is a rather quirky generic dramedy, that's reminiscent of other Filipino indie dramedies particularly one called Crying Ladies (which also tackled the issue of funerals in the context of Filipino society). However, the film comes alive in the dramatic twist in the third act which I will not reveal here. But the film turns both into a really interesting depiction on how technologies the internet and video have ingrained themselves into modern everyday life (as well as everyday drama) and a nice coming-of-age story of a young woman in the cusp of adulthood. (***)

The film about birth is Bahay Bata or Baby Factory. I shall preface this review by saying that I happen to be friends with the director of this film, as well as the publicist. But I assure you that I am as unbiased and objective as I can be when I say that this is quite an exemplary film. This film is set -- and shot -- at a real-life maternity hospital in Manila that's government-run and are patronized by the urban poor during Christmas Eve. Its central character is a nurse (played by Diana Zubiri) who during the course of the day, finds out her boyfriend is married and that she's pregnant with his child. But that's just one story. We get various glimpses of little stories from the various patients and staff of the hospital itself. It has an almost documentary like feel and its got moments of raw honesty interspersed with surprisingly comic and inspiring moments. This film is rather relevant in Philippine society today due to something called the Reproductive Health Bill that's currently up in the air on Congress and the Senate. It's very controversial due to the strong opposition of the Catholic Church and conservative groups. So in the context of Philippine society, this could be seen as a political statement but it doesn't hit you over the head with it and also doesn't descend into melodrama. It's a really refreshing, honest-to-goodness slice of life film. (***1/2)

5 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

The first one is quite intriging.

movie68 said...

They both sound interesting, any idea what kind of release they will have

Diego Sousa said...

Finnaly something interesting to see in the internet! congrats for the post!

Film Geek Bastard said...

No idea. They're just premiering in the film festival. A distributor could pick it up.

i_love_weed said...

these sounds quiet good :D